In this post, I propose to tell you how I, entirely by accident, came up with my most popular and requested original dessert to date: the Mojito Sorbet! Before I move on, though, I want to say a few words in defense of the noble, terribly abused and often misunderstood drink that is the Cuban Mojito.
This shouldn’t really be necessary. But I feel that it is. For some reason, I sometimes see people scoff and laugh at me when I tell them that one of my favorite drinks is the humble Mojito. It’s either not considered posh enough compared to more modern or elaborate cocktails, or worse: it’s considered somewhat of an avoidable drink. And that is a crying shame!
Mojito, it’s not an avoidable drink!
If you think it is, it’s most likely because you’ve had a Mojito from the hands of a really bad bartender or, even worse, a synthetic, canned ready to drink version. In that case, I agree. In that case, the noble Mojito may well be reduced to a cloyingly sweet, weak, fizzy, bubbly, artificially colored avoidable drink.
A real Mojito, on the other hand, is a work of art and one that it takes no uncertain amount of skill to create. It is the perfect summer drink; it’s refreshing, cold, crisp, tangy, minty, spicy and intoxicating. It’s sweet, but not too sweet, pungent, but not too pungent, and it’s made with rum, real rum and lots of it.
The humble Mojito, genius in its simplicity and often misunderstood!
I have previously spent quite some time on the subject of creating the perfect Mojito. If you still think a Mojito is a sweet, girly drink, I suggest you check out this post before moving on. Alright? So with that out of the way, let’s assume that for the purpose of this post, and this blog, whenever I talk about Mojitos, I’m talking about real Mojitos and not a synthetic imitation product. Let’s move on then, shall we, and get from the subject of drinks to the subject of desserts.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and luck a faithful ally
A major challenge for me has always been coming up with original desserts. I think this is mainly because I’m just plain more interested in the savory kitchen and what it has to offer. I’ve never been very interested in sweets, desserts, cakes and pastry. “I prefer real food, not sweet foods,” I used to say.
Over the last couple of years, as I’ve gotten really into cooking multi-course dinners and entertaining, I have gotten more into cooking desserts as well, and I now quite enjoy coming up with new and exciting sweet dishes, but I will be the first to admit that my first desserts were born entirely out of necessity!
This fact just makes it all the stranger (and more entertaining) that one of my first original desserts have since become one of my most popular original creations and my most requested dish to date. As a matter off fact, it’s been the number one requested recipe since I first started this blog and even today, I regularly get bugged with requests for it. Well, bug no more, my friends, in the immortal words of Haley Joel Osment “I think I’m ready to tell you my secret now!” .. And that includes not only my recipe for Mojito Sorbet, but also the tale of how this came to be entirely by accident and out of necessity.
Many a summer ago, I was sitting alone on a hot night, slaving over some notes and brainstorming for a dinner I was cooking up for my friend Tina. I was stuck on the issue of dessert and what to do. It being a particularly hot summer, I wanted something light, cold and refreshing, something airy and crisp. “A granita, or maybe a sorbet,” I thought, sipping the daiquiri I’d prepared for myself (it was Friday, after all), “but what kind?”
“Tina really likes lime,” I thought on, as the citric bite of the daiquiri flowed past my lips, “but lime sorbet has been done a million times over… So what else is there?” I trailed on as the subtle burn of the rum caressed the back of my mouth… And then it struck me… Rum! Lime, rum and mint, the key players in Tina’s all time favorite drink, the mighty Mojito! Why not take Tina’s favorite drink and turn it into a not too cloyingly sweet dessert application? Why not make Mojito sorbet?!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the true story behind how my most requested dessert to date came to be. Out of desperation, necessity and sheer luck rather than culinary invention. Oh well, we all get lucky sometimes and the fact that this was born out of luck makes it no less of an awesome dessert.
Now, I realize that with spring still barely underway, the timing of posting this recipe may be a little off, but then again with people requesting this recipe since late October, maybe it is time we gave spring a chance and started pulling out some hot weather dishes in the hopes of helping the sun along.
An import note on rum! Rum is an important flavoring in any Mojito – or Mojito Sorbet for that matter – as such it would make sense to use a quality rum. I prefer Havana Club 3 Year Old in my Mojitos and Mojito Sorbet, sometimes fortified with a splash of aged rum. I realize Havana Club may not be an option for our American readers. If you’re unlucky to be suffering under the embargo, try Ron Matusalem Platinum or similar Cuban-style white rum. You can even use Bacardi if you like. I’ve personally always found it rough around the edges. Point is: Don’t use poor, cheap rum! Use something nice that you enjoy drinking and resist the urge to use more than the recipe suggests. Pure alcohol doesn’t freeze in domestic freezers, so you’ll end up with slush.
I’ll let you decide, you are, after all, the boss of your dinner party. But here, then, is the much requested and surprisingly easy recipe for Mojito Sorbet!
Mojito Sorbet, topped here with a bit of leaf gold for fun and decadence!
Mojito Sorbet: the ultimate boozy dessert?
- 230 grams granulated sugar
- 700 milliliters water
- 1 bunch mint sprigs
- 100 milliliters freshly-squeezed lime juice
- 50 milliliters Havana Club 3 yo or similar quality white rum
- 3 large limes zest of
- 1 dash salt
- 1 splash Green food coloring optional
- Go through mint sprigs, carefully pick off about two tablespoons worth of the largest leaves and set aside.
Make sorbet base:
- Add water and sugar to a medium sauce pan along with 5-10 mint sprigs and slowly bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.
- When pot is simmering and sugar is dissolved, kill the heat and let stand for approximately 15 minutes.
- Place a fine strainer over a bowl and pour syrup mixture through, straining out the mint, use a spoon to force every drop of liquid out of the mint sprigs.
- Add lime juice, lime zest, rum and salt to mixture. Stir to combine and chill.
- Optional step: This Mojito sorbet is a little grey/pale in color. If you want a more appealing, greenish sorbet, carefully stir in a few drops of green food coloring at this point. It will make a world of difference.
Make sorbet using an ice cream maker:
- If you have an ice cream maker. Process the sorbet base according to the manufacturers instructions.
- About 5 minutes before batch is finished, cut reserved mint into thin strips (chiffonade) and add to mixture. Store in freezer.
Make sorbet without an ice cream maker:
- Chill a shallow stainless steel, pyrex or ovenproof dish in the freezer.
- Pour in sorbet base, it should come up no more than an inch along the side of the vessel.
- Freeze sorbet base in the freezer. Every hour during freezing, stir mixture thoroughly with a fork to break up large ice crystals.
- When mixture is well frozen, remove from freezer and process in batches in a blender or food processor till texture is completely smooth and sorbet-like.
- Cut reserved mint leaves into thin strips (chiffonade) and stir into sorbet.
- Store sorbet in sealed container in the freezer.
This recipe makes anything from four really generous servings to eight smaller ones. Sorbet isn't a particularly filling dish so depending on the number of courses and the greed of your diners this will either go really far or not very far at all.
STOP THE PRESSES! Johan is recommending refined sugar?!? Well, you got me there. You will almost never see me advocating the use of refined, granulated sugar in recipes. The reason I do here is because unrefined sugar adds a brownish hue to the sorbet which may not seem desirable. You can, however, counteract this by adding a few extra drops of (natural) green food coloring to the sorbet before freezing.
No special equipment needed!
Don’t have an ice cream maker? Fear not! As explained in an earlier and slightly more decadent post, about Sauternes sorbet, an ice cream maker is really not needed for making sorbet. More on that here.
Neither is it needed for making regular ice cream (or so-called parfait) for that matter. However, if you do plan on making a lot of sorbet or ice cream, it may make things a lot easier on you.
Whichever way you chose to make this sorbet, machine or not, the result will be a smooth and creamy slightly sweet sorbet with dominant lime flavors, full of minty tones and a slight spiciness from the rum. It will be sweeter than your average Mojito and less alcoholic, of course. But it is a dessert after all. You can enjoy this at basically any time of the day, or the year for that matter. But it is damn near perfect as a dessert course after a light lunch on a hot summer’s day or at the end of a meal on one of those bright and seemingly endless Scandinavian summer nights.
If you’re not opposed to starting things off a little sweet, I might even recommend it as a sundowner on your first day of summer vacation.